What does it mean to be a person of faith in America right now? I ponder this question, as our country witnesses the murder of unarmed African Americans by civilians and police, time and time again. Each act seems to feed off the one before it, becoming more virulent, more tragic, more unlikely that we will find our way to a new tomorrow, long overdue.

As always, we say and deeply feel, “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, our nation,” and of course nothing is more valuable than prayer. But prayer with action is what is needed now, prayer that asks, “What changes can I personally make that will make a difference?”

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everybody thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.” Or as Jesus put it, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not see the log in your own eye?”

We question. We grieve. We pray. In the process of praying, let us pray also that we will be the ones to listen, to be open to change, to be vulnerable as we learn and grow together.

What can one person do? There are simple, concrete actions we can take. We can say “Stop” before we respond in anger to a person with political beliefs that differ from ours. Say “Stop” before we judge a person based on their race, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. Say “Stop” before we post inflammatory remarks on social media, a venue giving our words a worldwide audience.

And say “Yes” to love, the only force which can cast out hate and fear. Say “Yes” to putting that love into action by contacting our elected officials who have the collective power to make substantive changes in our community and our nation. Say “Yes” to being open to learn from people who do not share our worldview, who do not look, love, or live as we do.

Our world can change—one person at a time. It begins with me. It begins with you.

The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Geitz